RealTime IT News

House Green Lights EPA Data Centers Study

Lawmakers today directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to analyze the benefits of energy efficient computing and data center design on the energy supply chain.

On a 417-4 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 5646, directing the EPA to conduct the study to expedite the adoption of energy-efficient servers and data centers.

The explosive growth of the Internet and related online applications is creating a growing demand for data centers, large power-consuming facilities housing servers and other communications equipment.

The growth in data centers is expected to dramatically increase power demands and resulting energy costs.

"The cumulative energy cost for servers and data centers in the U.S. is approximately $3.3 billion annually, and studies have shown energy efficient servers can save up to 80 percent in electricity and cooling costs," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Eschoo and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) co-sponsored the legislation. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.

"The energy burden of these facilities will continue to grow rapidly, so it's critical for government, industry and consumers to be able to identify the most efficient technology to meet their needs," Eschoo said.

In a typical data center, every watt of power directly consumed by servers and other equipment requires another watt of power for indirect power needs. The average annual power costs for a 100,000 square foot data center is nearly $6 million.

Those costs are expected to increase as companies deploy more servers consuming more power and in the process emitting more heat that needs to be dissipated.

"Data centers are the workhorse of the Internet, serving Web pages, processing transactions, and storing vast amounts of digital information," David Douglas, eco-responsibility vice president for Sun Microsystems, said in a statement shortly after the vote.

"However, data centers require energy to operate, and larger ones consume enough power to meet the electricity needs of a small town."

According to the Robert Francis Group, 41 percent of Fortune 500 IT executives identified power and cooling as problems for their data centers.

The EPA study will examine the environmental impact of data centers and investigate methods to reduce energy demand in hopes of encouraging the adoption of more energy efficient servers.

"With one billion people online today and that number expected to increase by 3 million people each week over the next two years, it is important that we take action now to promote energy efficient data center technologies that reduce energy consumption while meeting increased demand," Douglas said.